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Red Sun Revival - Interview

Interview with: Rob Leydon
Conducted by: T.V.

Recent year must be a joy for all goth rockers as we're having the opportunity of listening to quite a lot of great albums. Running From The Dawn, debut album from London (UK) based band Red Sun Revival is certainly the album which must not be missed as it is in my opinion one of the greatest gothic rock albums released in last couple of years. This is one of those albums that must take its place on every devoted gothic rock fan shelves. The leader of the band Rob Leydon is an experienced musician and the music he creates can't leave you cold. Terra Relicta did an interview with him, so that you'll get a little more insight into who Rob is and what are his rich experiences on musical fields. He revealed us a lot regarding Red Sun Revival and yet much more.

T.R.: How are you satisfied with your recently released debut album Running From The Dawn and what about the response from media and fans?
Rob: I'm very satisfied with both the album and the positive response it has generated. I've released albums in the past, with other bands, and have always been somewhat disappointed with the end result, as a consequence of having rushed one or more important aspects of the process. This time, I think we did things correctly, and worked with the right people to get the best possible result. I'm absolutely delighted with the way the album sounds, with the songs, and with the very positive reviews we've received so far.
T.R.: You released it on af-music record label, how did you get in touch with them and how are you satisfied with them so far?
Rob: We were recommended to af-music by Lilly from Static Magazin, who reviewed some demo material we'd prepared last November. Af-music have been very supportive, and I have to thanks Marcus and Falk for all their hard work in promoting us and distributing our album. We also pressed the album through af-music, and we're all very pleased with the way the album has come out. Very professional guys and a pleasure to work with.
T.R.: Some quite impressive names worked with you on it, like Steve Carey, Andy Jackson who mastered the album and guest violinist Bob Loveday from Bob Geldof band. Have this colaborations affected the sound in any way?
Rob: Yes, getting these people involved was crucial to achieving the sound that we wanted. Steve Carey spend countless hours mixing the material and did an absolutely wonderful job. Having worked with Steve in Adoration, and briefly in The Eden House, I knew that he was the right person to mix our album on the basis of the great work he's already done in both these bands and in many others. Bob Loveday put down some violin layers in "Running From The Dawn", the title track of the album, which required a big violin sound. He recorded numerous layers of violin at Steve's to create the wonderful thick sound on the song. Bob also added some flourishes to "Without You", which really added something special. Andy Jackson was recommended to me by Steve, although I already knew of his work with Fields Of The Nephilim and Pink Floyd. Andy's mastering took the tracks to a professional level and we're all overjoyed with the end product.
T.R.: The front cover artwork for this album is quite different from many of usual gothic covers, who did it and has maybe any special meaning?
Rob: The album artwork was produced by Ilona Jurgiel, of Lightpainted Doll, my ex-girlfiend. Ilona is actually a very talented porcelain and resin doll maker, who is also very accomplished at photography and graphic design. The actual Logo featured on the front cover was designed by Joseph Blackthorn, another talented graphic designer. The logo is actually based on an orery, which is a sort of model of planetary motions. The photography was undertaken by Taya Uddin, who has worked with numerous high profile musicians.
T.R.: You started this project alone, how did you came together with other members and can you say some words about each of them?
Rob: I've known Christina for some years, from alternative clubs in London, particularly Slimelight. When I started writing the album, it was more for personal gratification rather than as part of a plan to start a new band. At some point Christina mentioned that she played violin, and as the songs I'd been experimenting with were quite orchestral in parts, it seemed like a good idea to ask her if she'd be interested in the event that I formed a band with the songs. After completing draft versions of all of the songs I decided to start looking for other musicians to take on the remaining instruments. Tim from Pretentious, Moi? put me in touch with Matt, who plays guitar in this band. I ended up meeting Matt for the first time at Whitby Gothic Weekend and we got on really well. Soon thereafter, Matt came to my place in Bicester and we went through some of the material. I was really impressed by how quickly Matt had already managed to learn some very challenging guitar parts from the songs. Finally, I placed an advert online for a bassist, and received a number of responses. Panos was the only one who actually turned up for an audition, but this came as a great relief as I'd already decided he was one of the best bassists I'd ever met. The whole band have great enthusiasm for the material and everyone helps out with the various things that need taking care of. For instance, Matt looks after the website, Christina takes care of the accounts, and Panos is heavily involved in aspects of the creating the live sound.
T.R.: And who is responsible for the marvelous keyboards?
Rob: Thank you! I program all of the keyboards at my home-studio using MIDI software and sample libraries. I find this a great way to begin with the composition of song, it's very intuitive and easily allows the user to experiment with different ideas in the early stages of song-writing. This is one of the most gratifying parts of the process.
T.R.: Before you said that you've been involved with other bands in the past, can you reveal something more about your past musical activities?
Rob: Before Red Sun Revival, I was primarily a guitarist/bassist. I was one of the founding members of Voices Of Masada, before we split up a couple of years ago. We released two albums, Four Corners and Another Day, and toured extensively in the UK, Europe, and also in the USA and Australia. I also joined Adoration, initially as a session musician following the release of the album Sleep Walking, before joining as a full member. Adoration played a number of high profile gigs in the UK and also one WGT. Additionally, I've also played session guitar for The Eden House, and session bass and guitar for Nosferatu.
T.R.: What was the reason that Voices Of Masada split-up?
Rob: We actually split up a long time after it was inevitable that this would eventually happen. When I started writing again after our album Another Day, I realised that I wanted to take things in a slightly different direction, and that this would be impossible to accomplish in Voices Of Masada because of the dynamics between the individuals in that band, and because of the strongly held views and differing opinions amongst us for the best way to move forward with the band. I sort of gave my notice, and we agreed to carry on playing gigs as long as we were being offered them, but not to work on new material. After quite a long time, and for various reasons, we decided to go our separate ways and pursue over things.
T.R.: Lyrics seem to play an important role on Running From The Dawn album...
Rob: Yes, the lyrics are very important to me, and something that I devout an enormous amount of effort to; probably as much as the music. The lyrics are sometimes based on personal experiences, and are sometimes narratives which have emerged from particular ideas I've had. In every case, they are personal, and reflect my own hopes, fears, desires, ambitions. despair, and so on. Quite a lot of the lyrics relate to my religious upbringing, which whilst not unique to me, was a very important source difficulty for me. I think you have to search your own experiences for lyrical inspiration, whatever those experiences are.
T.R.: Yes, I noticed a strong connotation with religion. Tell me what's your position regarding religion today?
Rob: I'd probably describe myself as a hard agnostic, so basically an atheist. The caveat is that whilst I don't believe there is a god, I can't provide proof that no god exists, anymore than I can offer proof of the non-existence of unicorns, or dragons for instance.
T.R.: Can you tell me more about your experience with religion in your youth?
Rob: Back then I used to end up at a lot of evangelical events. These events tended to begin lightheartedly, with some upbeat Christian music for everyone to sing along to. After this, a few speakers would take turns to give long emotional testimonies of their tragic lives, and how God had intervened to put them on the right path, and how fulfilled they had then become. After the testimonies, there would be more singing, but with slower, more emotional stuff, and all the while a speaker at the front would be talking over the music encouraging people to open themselves up to a variety of spiritual experiences. I once recall being in a room of several hundred people, and being one of only a few that had failed to experience anything. All around me, people were lying on the floor, having been 'slain in the spirit', others were in floods of tears, or laughed hysterically, some claimed to have received messages from God, or babbled incoherently 'in tongues'. At the time, I attributed my lack of spiritual experience to a deficiency of faith, or spiritual openness on part, as though I was possibly an unsuitable conduit for God to use. It was only upon reflection that I saw things differently, some years later. Clearly, it seems to me, whatever group-hysteria had gripped those people had failed to infect me in the same way.
T.R.: You use kind of specific vintage image (at least on bands photos), tell me how important is a look and image of a band for you?
Rob: I think it's important for a band to have a strong visual identity, and an imagery which works with the musical tapestry. In our case, I'd seen Roman Polanski's adaptation of Oliver Twist, and loved the way the film was shot, almost in sepia, with the shabby victorian clothes, battered top hats, etc. We decided to use this as a template for the photoshoot with Taya Uddin, who understood what we were aiming at and executed the whole thing brilliantly.
T.R.: What about Red Sun Revival live appearances?
Rob: Red Sun Revival, are quite new to gigging, having focused until now on producing the album. That said, we've played at Whitby Gothic Weekend, and supported David J (from Bauhaus and Love And Rockets) in London. We also have Emergency Exit Festival in Austria for next Easter, and several other gigs in the pipeline for next year.
T.R.: Are you planing a tour in near future?
Rob: There are no specific plans at the moment for a tour as such; we're still quite a new band trying to establish ourselves. I think we'll get plenty of gigs in the coming year though, even if they do not constitute a contiguous tour. We already have a few things in the pipeline and we're hoping for several more live opportunities to develop. If a tour become a possibility, we'd obviously be delighted to do one.
T.R.: Do you prepare something special for your live sets?
Rob: We're still quite new to live work, having focused primarily on producing the album up until this point. This is now changing and we are getting some good offers to consider. The live performance brings it's own energy and intensity, and we can forge a different kind of interaction with the audience through the music in a live situation. We'll be looking into other ways of developing the live show as we develop as a band.
T.R.: Fields Of The Nephilim seems to be one of your biggest influences, at least for the vocal part...
Rob: Yes, Fields Of The Nephilim are a fairly big influence for me, both vocally and in terms of guitar lines. There are other influences also, which I think are just as important for me as a song-writer. In addition to other bands, such as Pink Floyd and the Chameleons, film soundtracks play a very important role for me in terms of musical inspiration.
T.R.: But there are also some influences from classical music heard on Running From The Dawn...
Rob: I like classical music very much, although I wouldn't want to describe myself as any kind of authority on it! I'm mainly a fan of film soundtracks, which often draw heavily on classical compositions. I wanted to create a film soundtrack landscape with strings, choirs, and piano, and then add guitar, bass, drums and vocals as layers over the top.
T.R.: Beside Carl McCoy, who are the vocalists that impressed you mostly and given you biggest influence?
Rob: Probably Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Dave Gilmour, and Dave Vanian
T.R.: You published one video clip for the song "Without You", although it's not a real video, just pictures,... any plans for the next one?
Rob: We've not currently published any official videos, although I'm aware that there are some slide-show videos on YouTube which people have been kind enough to put together. But yes, we are planning an official video, and the preparations for this are already underway. There will be more news on this soon!
T.R.: Yes, but your label promoted this video as kind of official one.
Rob: As we don't currently have an official video out, I guess it's nice to have something with visual content for promotional purposes. We'll be releasing an official video shortly, and will be shooting it very soon!
T.R.: How much do you follow musical scene of today and what kind of genres appeal you most?
Rob: I take some interest in current music, a few bands stick out that I've liked a lot recently, such as The Editors, O Children, and Arcade Fire. I don't know if there are whole genres that appeal that much, I tend to pick and choose the bands, or even just the songs that I like. Music has diversified so much in the last two decades that you can subdivide genres endlessly.
T.R.: Beside those bands, can you point out any album that impressed you in recent time?
Rob: I would recommend listening to some of the stuff Nick Schultz is doing now, he got a really fantastic voice of some very impressive material.
T.R.: Do you buy physical copies of albums (cd, lp,...) or do you download music?
Rob: I tend to get the real thing, I still like to have a physical product in my hand, peel off the shrink wrap, open it up and read the text an so on.
T.R.: The songs on Running From The Dawn have been done quite some time ago in the years 2007 to 2010. Are there any new songs and when can we expect to hear something new?
Rob: Yes, we're currently working on new material. We have a couple of new songs which have been composed this year, and I'm very pleased with them. We hope to release an EP to follow the album at some point next year. I think something new will certainly emerge next year at some point. Writing is going very well at the moment, there is a lot of momentum, and I'm very much enjoying creating new material. I should think a full second album can't be too far away in the future.
T.R.: Are the new songs in the same vein as those on album?
Rob: The new songs are certainly in a similar vein to those on the album, in the sense that there hasn't been a dramatic shift to a different musical style. At the same time, the new songs are unique and have developed their own distinct characters.
T.R.: Are Red Sun Revival the first band band where you took over vocal duties?
Rob: Yes, before Red Sun Revival I did some backing vocals in Voices Of Masada, and a few one-off gigs where I did lead vocals using solo material some years ago, but Red Sun Revival is the first real band in which I've taken on this role. It was very daunting, but also a life-time ambition!
T.R.: What is the main goal that would you like to achive with this band?
Rob: From a personal perspective, that goal has already been achieved, in producing this album Running From The Dawn. It's essentially the album I've always wanted to make, and now that's been accomplished. From here, I'd like to secure as many live shows as possible and see the band succeed as a live act, getting slots at big festivals in the UK and in Europe. Beyond this, a second album at least as good as our first is the goal we're aiming for now, and one that I'm sure we can reach based on the new material that we're now working on.
T.R.: Before you said that you played as a session guitarist with legendary Nosferatu,... was there an option for you to join them permanently?
Rob: This was suggested at various points, but for one reason or another it didn't come off. I think, retrospectively, that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing as I now have a lot more time to devote to Red Sun Revival, which is my main priority.
T.R.: How much do you follow the situation with political, financial and social crisis that is going on especially in Europe and what's your opinion regarding this matter?
Rob: I've been following the situation on the news for the last few years. It directly affected me for the first time when I was made redundant from my job after 10 years of service. Fortunately I was lucky enough to find another job, unlike many who are now struggling with the consequences of the mistakes made by a handful of corrupt and incompetent bankers. I wouldn't want to express much beyond that in terms of my own personal opinions, I guess my views are very much in line with the majority of people in Europe, who have to contend with an uncertain future with limited if indeed any job-security, without adequate pensions etc etc. Someone else screwed up and now we all have to clean up their mess, assuming we don't end up in a complete meltdown.
T.R.: Running From The Dawn was chosen as album of the month October on Terra Relicta, any comments...
Rob: I'm very flattered, and delighted that Running From The Dawn is October's album of the month on Terra Relicta! Thank you, it's an honour.
T.R.: Anything at the end of this interview?
Rob: Thanks for reading, I hope you readers will enjoy our music and get the opportunity to see us play live at some point very soon. All the best!

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Red Sun Revival Articles: Running From The Dawn - review, Running From The Dawn - song by song

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